How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist?

First in a series

Have you ever thought about why you enjoy being a nudist or naturist so much? If so, you probably used terms like a "sense of freedom," "pleasure," "relaxation," and "self-acceptance." Or, you may have thought of naturism as a safe, natural and healthy environment for children. It could be the welcoming atmosphere no matter which club or beach you visit or the friendly, supportive, and caring friends you have met. You probably can think of many more reasons. Surely you have wished that everyone could feel the same as you and that you could say without reservation "Hey world, I'm a nudist!"

Acknowledging an alternative way of life (or "coming out") as a nudist or naturist may make you feel vulnerable because you are sharing personal information or feelings with others without truly knowing how they will react. Many naturists keep their nude activities secret from their parents, children, other relatives and even friends. They often worry that someone will accidentally find out, or that people will ask about the "camp" they go to on weekends, ask to be invited or say they want to come along on one of the next trips. Unfortunately, when you can't be totally honest, you find yourself lying, making excuses or being forced to tell the truth under very unfavorable circumstances. This is not only stressful but also harmful to relationships, especially if the other party finds out and recognizes your lack of trust in them. In addition, keeping your nudism a secret gives the appearance of an admission of guilt..."Why else wouldn't you have told me?" Most agree it would be far more beneficial if naturists could discuss their mode of living openly and without fear of repercussion.

There are many benefits to being "out." These are just a few examples:

  • Allows you to retain integrity knowing you are being genuine with family, friends and those you care about.
  • Being truthful and open can produce feelings of trust and confidence that build strong bonds.
  • Eliminates the anxiety about having your nudist activities divulged by an individual who accidentally discovers your involvement while browsing the Internet.
  • Allows you to feel comfortable with your way of life.
  • Eliminates the fear of meeting a friend or coworker at a nudist event.
  • You can freely speak of your activities with pride and enthusiasm.
  • Puts you in control of how and when you share your information.
  • You can be an advocate for nude recreation and recruit different populations such as families, friends, and young adults.
  • Facilitates full participation in all aspects of nudist activities and use of one's full name or a photo in nudist publications.
  • You won't feel guilty because you prefer to be with your nudist friends because you can invite your non-nudist friends to join you.
  • Lastly, once most of your friends know, you will have the pleasure of watching others' reactions when you casually mention something that suggests you are a nudist.

As each person publicly discloses his or her nudism, it begins to create a more positive opinion among non-nudists. Friends, relatives and colleagues will now realize they know someone who both practices naturism but is also the very same person they may have known for years and have come to admire, respect or love. Additionally, as nudism becomes a more understood and acceptable mode of living, it helps to alter the archaic restrictive rules that governments and societies have foisted upon the nudist community. In turn, it ultimately leads to a more safe, secure and nonjudgmental existence for all of us who enjoy the right to be clothes-free in appropriate places.

Barriers To Acknowledging Your Nudism

Of course, there are instances when not disclosing that you are a nudist seems to be the safest choice. Some naturists do not expect to ever reveal their nudist activities because they work for employers or belong to religious organizations that would never approve. Today, the Internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter are rapidly eroding the expectation or guarantee of privacy, and the chance of someone's "cover being blown" increases almost daily. Sharing that you are a nudist is a serious decision, especially if you are part of the group who would suffer unacceptable consequences even if your admission were proper and sensitively framed. This population includes teachers in communities with moral turpitude laws, employees of religious groups or small privately owned businesses with strong dogmatic opposition to nudity, and individuals whose relatives have deep-seated religious or cultural views against nudity.

To better prepare for unexpected disclosure, people who might encounter punitive responses should analyze potential situations and plan their responses in advance, using some of the strategies that will be shared in future articles. For example, they may consider gaining experience and confidence by telling a few people with whom they feel safe. If they have friends with influence on an employer or organization, they should consider them allies and include them as well because in sensitive situations, it is often effective when a respected individual states, "I've known for years that he was a nudist. You've always considered him a valuable employee/member. Nothing has changed, so what is your concern?"

An important objective when discussing your naturism is to promote knowledge, a positive attitude and comfort with the fact that you enjoy nude recreation and believe it to be a normal, wholesome activity. It is tempting to try convincing people that they too should become nudists and perhaps at a later and more opportune time you might consider the challenge of inviting friends to experience nude recreation. However, your goal at this time is acceptance. Disclosure is not an all or nothing process. You can initially come out only to your "safest" friends and then, as you feel comfortable, progress to others. Before you know it, you will be sharing with numerous friends. And what if one of them tells someone else? No problem. They will probably do it in a casual conversation that implies they are totally cool with it—and they will have saved you the effort of telling the person yourself.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, most of us are much safer out in the open than living with a secret. Often, individuals whose nudism has been disclosed without their permission recognize too late that being secretive has given their opponent total control of how their way of life was revealed. You can begin the sharing process by asking yourself, "Why am I a nudist?" It's amazing how many people can't answer that question! Just think about it, write it all down and then edit it into a 30-second "elevator speech" that you are prepared to give should the situation arise. This technique is just one of many that will appear in the next issue's Part II to help you inform people you are a nudist, feel less vulnerable when you are doing so, and produce a more positive outcome. As for how long you should wait to tell people—by the end of the series you should be able to answer that question for yourself!

How Long Should You Wait To Tell The World You're A Nudist? (Part 4)

Fourth in a Series

Once you have decided to acknowledge your nudism, your first goal is to have people react positively to your information. You should not try to convince them to become nudists---that is too important a decision to make on the spur of the moment---but you can casually invite them to join you sometime. Part IV provides you with some additional strategies for successful disclosure.

When people are presented with unfamiliar information, feel the information has some negative connotations, and are expected to respond immediately, they may react with skepticism or negativity because they haven't had time to fully reflect on the new information. Disclosure within a larger conversation forestalls having to respond immediately to the information about nudity. However, people should not feel that the purpose of your conversation is just to tell them you are a nudist---which may sound too much like a confession. A better situation is responding to a conversation they initiated and mentioning something interesting that induces them to ask about your activities or where you go. You can then say “the nudist club Fran and I belong to just south of …”

When acknowledging your nudist way of life, be enthusiastic, factual, and composed and be prepared to answer any questions.  Provide information about where you go, such as a website or brochure, and describe your activities, especially those that your friends would also enjoy.  While your goal is to make them aware of and comfortable with your nudism rather than trying to convert them, it is also good to tell friends they are welcome to visit your camp or resort if at any time they are interested in trying a clothes free experience.  And since nudists frequently prefer to be in the company of other nudists, it is always a benefit when a close friend decides to join you.

Simple situations

Simple situations include telling friends who are likely to respond positively and are unlikely to share the information with your family, religious institution, employer or others whose reactions might be unacceptable to you.

After selecting those whom you would like to tell, you can wait until a conversation provides a logical opportunity to introduce something about being a nudist. Or as many people do, create the opportunity to bring up the topic you want to discuss.  Thus, if someone's vacation or social activities are mentioned, talk about a "Nakation" or membership in a wonderful naturist group and then describe it.  Present this nonchalantly, without signs of embarrassment or concern.  Hopefully, your listener will ask for more information or an explanation that you will then gladly give.

When responding to someone's comment give more information than requested so it appears that, although you could have sidestepped the issue, you have no hesitancy to talk about your nudist activities.   Infer you are open to questions; i.e., "A lot of folks have the wrong idea about nude recreation and naturists; I am always happy to explain our philosophy and particularly, who we are and who we're not!"

Offering more information provides an opportunity to emphasize essential facts.  This author often says, "My husband and I have been members of a wonderful family camp for over 10 years.  Solair happens to be a family nudist resort.  It's been in existence for over 76 years and we've met the most interesting people. We're pretty involved there; I run a yearly health fair, my husband organizes the shuffleboard tournament."

Use softer terms such as “skinny-dipping” rather than harsher terms like “naked” or pejorative terms like “nekkid.” Intersperse 'clothing free' with 'nude' and recognize that words ending in 'ist' and 'ism' may appear cult-like and set you apart from “normal” people.  Also, employ the techniques you have learned to produce comfort with the concept.

Part V will provide strategies for dealing with more complex situations.

Editor’s Note: This article and other articles in this series are based on the work of the Joint AANR/TNS Ad Hoc Committee on Sharing your Naturism.